Who are HR professionals in 2022?

A new HR trends report examines how the industry has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Who are HR professionals in 2022?

Human resources has never been more valued than during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When companies pivoted from the office to working from home, it was up to HR departments to navigate the transition. As employees worked through fear of being infected with the coronavirus, concern for the safety of their loved ones and anxiety over the uncertainty of it all, they turned to HR for assistance, wisdom and comfort.

As a result of the stress over the past two years, the vast majority of HR professionals feel challenged and exhausted. On top of navigating the never-ending waves of the coronavirus, they’re contending with the Great Resignation and the need to rapidly improve their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

HR departments in the United States are predominantly female (64%) and overwhelmingly white (82%), according to the 2022 HR Industry Trends Report from TrustRadius, an Austin, TX-based review site for business technology. The report polled 764 HR professionals from the associate level to C-suite across industries in the US.

While these trends are representative of the US HR industry, the tech industry is a notable exception. Men make up 51% of tech HR teams and hold 53% of tech HR leadership positions, according to the report. Mirroring the overall percentage of HR departments in the country, 82% of tech HR leaders are white. In non-tech industries, though, female HR staff (67%) are more than twice as prevalent than men.

“This report looks at the state of the HR industry and learnings from 2021, so that we can make better decisions in 2022,” says Megan Headley, vice president of research at TrustRadius.

In the wake of 2021's labor market upheaval, the report also revealed that HR professionals are generally embracing a more remote, diverse and empowered workforce. Nearly half of HR professionals (48%) said that remote work increases productivity. The figure jumped to 59% among those in fully remote environments, while 42% at office-only companies said remote work decreases productivity.

Read more: Great Resignation has ‘permanently changed labor market,’ say HR pros

Additionally, a clear majority of HR professionals (65%) said that remote work increases well-being. Millennial HR professionals had the most favorable opinion of remote work, with 58% finding that it increases employee productivity and 72% saying the same for well-being. When asked if remote work impacts the ability of HR professionals to deliver service to employees, 31% say it makes work more difficult, 32% think it’s easier and 35% say it makes no difference.

“When most offices were planning to reopen, the pandemic continued and HR professionals had to go back to the drawing board once again,” Headley says. “Worker mobility is becoming a permanent feature of the enterprise landscape and investing in the tech solutions that support employee needs is critical for business survival.”

According to the report, 55% of HR professionals said their companies are spending more on HR technology right now, a move that may help them stay competitive amid new realities. Of that percentage, 45% are spending more to upgrade their existing equipment and 38% are purchasing new tech.

With respect to DEI, the research found that 49% of HR professionals thought that their HR software helps prevent bias in hiring. But that perception differed significantly by gender, with 62% of men thinking this, but only 43% of women. According to the analysis, 60% of HR professionals said their company is diverse, 44% said their company is equitable and 43% said their company is inclusive.

“Companies are looking for new technologies to streamline their processes when it comes to talent retention and to systematically improve diversity, inclusion and belonging,” Headley says.

Hiring biases has come under fire recently, with more than a dozen of the world’s largest employers forming the Data & Trust Alliance to focus on responsible data and AI practices for recruiting and prospecting purposes. Meanwhile, Boston-based startup AdeptID, has spent the past year using an application programming interface (API) to find hidden talent in the workforce to recommend to employers.

“There are plenty of good jobs out there that don’t require a degree, but the methods used to identify talent are fairly superficial and certainly outdated,” Fernando Rodriguez-Villa, co-founder and CEO of AdeptID, told HRD. “It’s not a surprise that a lot of algorithms are racist or have other forms of prejudice when not a lot of attention was paid to the quality of training data.”

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